Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2020

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Revision as of 09:14, 7 October 2020 by Stuart (talk | contribs) (→‎Sign up)
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This is the landing page for the Virtual FSWeekend Hackathon 2020.

Normally in mid-November a group of FlightGear enthusiasts participate in FSWeekend at Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands. Over the years this has been a focal point for both finishing existing development/releases and a catalyst for new ideas in FlightGear, as well as an opportunity for FG enthusiasts to share a beer. FSWeekend 2020 was cancelled, so to keep the spirit alive, we are planning to hold a Virtual FSWeekend Hackathon on the weekend of 14/15 November.


For those who haven't participated in a hackathon before, the broad idea is to get people from a wide variety of experience and backgrounds together to solve problems over a short period of time - typically 24 or 48 hours. Details vary, but typically at the start of the event, people pitch ideas and groups form organically based on what people are interested in. The groups then work together intensively, often fuelled by pizza and caffeine etc. At the end of the hackathon the groups present their work and there are often prizes for the best hacks.

The idea of the virtual FSWeekend hackathon would be to encourage existing and new contributors to collaborate over the course of the weekend to create new and exciting features for FlightGear in the broadest sense. James and I would particularly like to use it as an opportunity to encourage people to get their hands dirty in the core code, so we'll be primarily there to help people rather than hacking ourselves, but anything is possible :)

No prior development experience is necessary - we will try to run some education sessions ahead of the weekend so people can hit the ground running. Also, don't feel you have to commit to coding the entire weekend to the exclusion of all else. I think participants will still get real value if they can just commit to one day and some late evenings.

Sign up

To register your participation, please contact Stuart either on the forum post, or via the -devel list.

Confirmed participants (in no particular order):

  • Stuart Buchanan
  • James Turner
  • merspieler
  • wlbragg
  • Rick Gruber-Riemer (vanosten)
  • Marc Eberhard
  • Julian Smith
  • Fernando García Liñán
  • Henning Stahlke
  • Pat Callahan
  • Isaak Dieleman

Ahead of the Hackathon

There are a couple of key activities ahead of the weekend.

Getting Started

So we can hit the ground running, we really want everyone participating to already have:

  • sourceforge credentials
  • A working build environment with OSG, plib etc.
  • A git checkout of simgear/flightgear
  • A git checkout of fgdata
  • Some experience with git :)

James and Stuart will pull together (and improve) the wiki resources to make this easier.

Ideally, we would have a couple of weeks upfront to identify articles that would be useful to provide rough guidance, either to update these or rewrite/merge them with other articles. Candidate articles are currently being put into a dedicated Category:Hackathon Materials

If we can agree on a set of articles that seem useful (to walk people through the process of patching FlightGear to add self-contained functionality), it might make sense to reach out to the community to help with reviewing/proof-reading and possibly translate such articles. Also, encouraging people to contribute artworks might be a good idea (screen shots, images, diagrams/drawings etc).


Being completely remote, we need the ability to collaborate in teams as well as video-conference as a group.

We will try to have some sort of video-conference running permanently for people to drop into, as well as some collaboration tool that can be used both by individual teams as well as the whole group for general support.


The core of the Hackathon! Ideas of what you want to work on. The aim here is to pitch your idea to the group, and hopefully encourage people to work with you on it.



With (hopefully) a world-wide group of participants, and varying real life constraints, at any given time over the weekend there will hopefully be a couple of people active.

We'll have two big get-togethers:

Friday 13th November 2000-2200 UTC. Kick-off

General welcome, introductions and team formation.

Participants with ideas can give a 5 minute pitch to the group to recruit people to their team. At the end of the pitches, people can decide which team they want to join/form. To gain maximum benefit, it's best to be in a team of at least two :).

Sunday 15th November 2000-2200 UTC. Wrap-up and demos

At the end of the hackathon we'll have a get together and have each team present the results of their hack. Hopefully in the form of a working demo. We may have some voting for the best hack.


Q: What's the aim of the Hackathon?
A: To learn and have fun hacking FlightGear. Encourage people to get their hands dirty and modify code. Try out new ideas. Working with other people. Ultimately increase the number of core developers.

Q: What can participants expect to get out of the weekend?
A: The primary goal is for people to learn through experimentation. To try out new ideas and in the process learn about the internals of FlightGear. James, Stuart and Fernando will be be providing coaching over the course of the weekend.

Q: What organization will be provided?
A: We'll provide tools for collaboration, and organize a couple of meetings, but not much more. The idea behind hackathons is that participants largely self-organize - teams form around interesting ideas on Friday evening and organize themselves. Participants will need to provide their own computers, pizza, haribo, beer. The last three are traditional, but optional.

Q: How much time do I need to commit?
A: The more the better. A traditional hackathon would be 24-48 hours of solid work with sleep optional. That's not realistic for most people, but 20 hours over the weekend would be a good amount to aim for. Certainly if you can only commit to a couple of evenings you may not get much out of Hackathon.

Q: What skills do I need?
A: It depends on what you want to do. You need to know C/C++ already to be able to hack the core of FlightGear. The Hackathon isn't a good place to learn C++ for the first time. However, there are lot of interesting projects using python, Nasal etc.

Q: I've got a great idea for the Hackathon. What do I do?
A: Great! Create a wiki page describing it to enthuse other people and collect comments, and post a link to the Ideation section above so everyone can see it.